When it was leaked that the Lakers had serious interest in hiring Jason Kidd as an assistant coach, not everyone was on board with the idea, and rightfully so.
In the four years Kidd served as a head coach, he had a losing record of 183-190, including a 23-22 record in his final season with the Milwaukee Bucks. In the season after Kidd was fired, his replacement, Mike Budenholzer, led the Bucks to an NBA-best 60-22 record.
Generally speaking, that’s not a great look.
It’s also worth mentioning that Tyronn Lue — who the Lakers offered the head coaching job to before Frank Vogel — didn’t like the idea of having Kidd on his coaching staff, which played a role in talks between the two parties breaking down.
There was one person that was on board with the Kidd hiring from the very beginning, though: LeBron James. James and Kidd have had a strong relationship dating back to the 2008 Olympics — when they both played for Team USA — and that relationship is built on their shared, unique understanding of the game, according to Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:
One of those primary assistants would be Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd, whom two sources have independently said James regards as the only person alive who sees the game of basketball with his level of clarity. Kidd was also known to be looking for his next opportunity as a head coach and had interviewed for the Lakers’ vacancy.
Having someone that James respects on Vogel’s coaching staff is obviously a good thing, but when that person isn’t the head coach, there’s always going to be noise surrounding Vogel’s job security. However, according to Kidd, that’s all it will ever be — noise:
The instant the Vogel-Kidd pairing was announced, the schadenfreude brigade began chattering about Vogel’s life expectancy with the Lakers, with Kidd waiting in the wings.
”There’s always going to be chatter — it’s the Lakers,” Kidd says. “Sometimes people act like I never played a game and I’ve never been a teammate. I was a good teammate then, and I’m a good teammate now.”
Vogel doesn’t sound too worried about Kidd’s presence, either:
“I can’t have four video guys on my staff,” Vogel says. “The right complement for me has always been a respected former player who has coaching experience. But you can’t have the mindset that you’re going to look over your shoulder — you need firepower on staff.”
As long as the Lakers keep winning at the rate they’re currently winning at (33-8), Vogel will have no reason to believe the seat beneath him will get warm. Coincidentally, the team’s success also makes the prospect of Kidd leading a team again more realistic.
If Kidd can continue to play nice with Vogel, this season will have a better chance of ending drama-free, and in resulting for positive outcomes for everyone involved.